About Me

Bilingual Roman Catholic priest of the Southern Dominican Province. The "homilettes" on this website are completely the work of Fr. Mele. He may be contacted at cmeleop@yahoo.com. Telephone: (415) 279-9234.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

(Judges 11:29-39a; Matthew 2:1-14)

Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

(Judges 11:29-39a; Matthew 2:1-14)

Sometimes religious traditions cause inner turmoil. For example, non-Catholics will ask about the necessity of confessing sins to a priest, and Catholics want to know about the need for confession before receiving Holy Communion when one has been distant from the sacraments. The readings today address issues far more perplexing than these, but our answers to these questions should help resolve those issues.

Confessing to a priest as representative of both God and the community assures the humility necessary for contrition and accesses the sinner to spiritual guidance. The Church would say that it is the normal path to forgiveness; however, she realizes, of course, that God is to forgive by other means. What is important here is that we note the necessity of looking deeply into traditions before criticizing their value.

In the first reading a prominent Israelite sacrifices his daughter because of a vow he has made. We must be horrified by the act. Perhaps the man was imprudent to make the vow. Still, it should never have been carried out when the life of a human being was at stake. The passage comments on the dismal state of religious understanding during the period of the Judges. Reform was definitely called for.

The gospel tells of a situation that distresses us today, especially the young. “How could God punish people for coming casually to a banquet?” we ask. But everyone at the time knew the established custom of wearing proper attire at a wedding feast as today we know the need not to wear beach clothing in the company of the Pope or the President. What is more, it is said that at ancient wedding feasts the proper clothing was available at the door for anyone who needed it. All this, however, misses Jesus’ point. The wedding garment is but a symbol for good works which make us welcome in the kingdom of heaven. As Jesus indicates in his first public address and specifies in his last, we are to feed the hungry and visit the sick if we are to enter the heavenly kingdom. This kind of service is the wedding garment in Jesus’ parable.